What is the goal of Yoga? Many modern practitioners may say that it is to get a flexible body, or to get fit. This is a positive outcome but somewhat misses the mark, there is more to yoga then meets the eye. Traditionally speaking Yoga is one of the six orthodox philosophical schools of Hinduism. It is firmly rooted within the tradition and there are many scriptures which are committed to studying and exploring the various yoga practises.
So, if there is more to Yoga then just a better physical state what more is there? We can look to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras for a more subtle understanding. In the second verse it is stated: Yogas chitta vritti Nirodaha. The state of Yoga is the quietening of mental fluctuations. This may perhaps suggest that the goal of yoga is the calming of the mind or living a more peaceful life. This like the physical benefits described above is a much desired outcome, we all need a more balanced and peaceful mind in our busy stressed out lives. But the scriptures suggest even more.
Recently whilst studying the Bhagavad Gita I came across a description of the state which the Yogi acheives which I wanted to share with you. In verse 6.27-28 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Shri Krishna says:
For an established Yogi whose mind is at peace, boundless happiness is attained. The one whose passions are controlled, who is without any impurity unites with Brahman (The ultimate reality).
Completely pure and absorbed in the state of Yoga, the Yogi through contact with Brahman finds boundless Happiness.
The Sanskrit words used are Atyantam Sukham. I have been meditating on these words for weeks now and they deeply resonated with me. Whether your religious path is union with God or communion with God, the goal is not just happiness but Atyantam sukham – unbounded happiness.
A good marker for how far we have come on the path is how happy we are. If we are angry, upset often, constantly frustrated, depressed, then we can turn to the ancient ones who have left us these road-maps to happiness. We can turn to the path of Yoga, which can not only provide us with a better physical body, make us live a more mindful life, but assist us in life’s true goal. This goal is sometimes called heaven, sometimes called liberation, but I really like this understanding of it simply as happiness.
I wish you unbounded happiness.